The move was made amid questions about what role Tehran may have played in supporting the bloody surprise Hamas attack from Gaza, reported The Washington Post and New York Times.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo informed House Democrats about the agreement to block access to the account on Thursday, sources told the Post.
The money, which comes from unfrozen Iranian oil sales, was only made available to the country several weeks ago as part of a prisoner swap deal with the US.
Mr Adeyemo told Democrats that the money “isn’t going anywhere”, three House Democratic aides told the newspaper.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv on Thursday that the US had the right to freeze the account, while not confirming that it would.
“The money that Iran accrued in bank accounts in this case in South Korea, and the sale of its oil was done pursuant to an arrangement established by the previous administration, the Trump administration. None of the funds that have now gone to Qatar have actually been spent or accessed in any way by Iran,” said Mr Blinken.
“Indeed, funds from that account are overseen by the Treasury Department and can only be dispensed for humanitarian goods, food, medicine, medical equipment, and never touch Iranian hands,” he added. “We have strict oversight of the funds, and we retain the right to freeze them.”
The US State Department has said it has seen no evidence directly tying Iran to the unprecedented Hamas attack in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 2,900 injured.
Hamas launched thousands of rockets into Israel and around 1,000 fighters entered Israel, where they took more than 100 civilians and soldiers captive.
More than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza from Israeli air strikes that have followed last Saturday’s attack with around 6,000 bombs dropped on the territory.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations warned that the US could not walk back the agreement.
“The senators in question and the US government are all acutely aware that they can NOT renege on the agreement. The money rightfully belongs to the people of Iran, earmarked for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the acquisition of all essential and non-sanctioned requisites for the Iranians,” it stated.
In 2020, the State Department reported that Iran spends around $100m annually supporting Hamas and other Palestinian groups.
Original News : https://www.the-independent.com/news/world/americas/us-politics/iran-account-hamas-attack-israel-b2428841.html